Pemex Contracts Three Deepwater Rigs, Plans Further Drilling

Mexico's state oil company Pemex has contracted three semi-submersible drilling rigs for deepwater activity, CEO of Pemex's E&P subsidiary (PEP), Carlos Morales Gil, said in a conference call to discuss second quarter results.

Two of the rigs have the capability to drill up to 2,100m, while the third can reach a depth of 3,000m.

All three of the rigs will be available in 2010, Morales said.

"Furthermore, Pemex is in the process of contracting an additional rig that will begin to operate in 2008 in water with depths greater than 2,000m," Morales said.

Mexico has potentially vast deepwater reserves in the Gulf of Mexico, but high investment costs associated with exploration, a lack of technological know-how and legal barriers to private participation have prevented the country from exploiting the resources.


Meanwhile, Pemex has completed drilling the Lalai well in the Coatzacoalcos Profundo area in the offshore Gulf of Mexico B region, Morales said.

The well has a depth of 800m and is currently in the testing phase, Morales said.

The first test on the Lalai well began July 16 and finished July 20. The second test is expected to begin this week or next, a Pemex spokesperson told BNamericas.

Pemex has lost some of its rigs, PEP's director of hydrocarbons reserves and exploration projects, Luis Ramos said in the conference call, citing high global demand for rigs. But Pemex is renewing some rig contracts that expired and is trying to get additional rigs for 2008.

"We are kind of in the process of transition," Ramos said.

There will be tenders for drilling in 2008 for the Chicontepec area, he said.


Morales also outlined specific plans for the Cantarell and Ku-Maloob-Zaap fields for the remainder of this year.

At the Cantarell field, Pemex aims to start operations of the Takin A and Akal TQ pipelines, finish 18 development wells, begin operations at two trains of its nitrogen recovery unit, construct pipelines for the Akal DB and BN rigs, and finish three horizontal wells.

During Q2 Pemex finished seven development wells on Cantarell, plus 21 major repairs and 13 minor repairs. The company also began operations of the Takin A rig and two horizontal wells.

At the KMZ fields in 2H07, Pemex aims to start operations of production rigs PB-Zaap-C and PB-KU-H, finish five pipelines with a total 18.2km length, drill 12 development wells and inject 300Mf3/d of nitrogen for pressure maintenance purposes.

At KMZ, the company started operations of the PB-KU-S rig in May, finished four marine pipelines with a total 14.4km length, and began operations of its "Senor del Mar" floating production, storage and dispatch unit.

Cantarell, which accounts for nearly half of Pemex's crude output, registered an average 1.58Mb/d of crude production level in 1H07. The average KMZ production level in 1H07 was 468,943b/d, BNamericas reported previously.

The KMZ fields reached a maximum historic output in late June of roughly 563,000b/d after starting operations of seven new wells in May and June, Morales said.


Companywide, Pemex drilled 169 wells in 2Q07, down 6% from the same period last year. Of the total, only 12 were exploratory wells compared to 20 in 2Q06, mainly due to less activity in Lankahuasa, Campeche Oriente and Campeche Poniente.

Production of light crude increased 0.4% and super light crude 17%, largely as a result of conclusion and repair of wells in the southwest marine basin. Light and super light crude output reached a combined total of 1.03Mb/d, thereby making up 33% of total production compared to 30% in 2Q06.

Pemex expects capex in 2H07 to be roughly US$6.5bn, Ramos said.

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